RUN­NING ON FUMES

MARC GRAV­E­LINE

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY LOREEN PINDERA

Muskoka Iron­man 70.3, 2012: Marc Grav­e­line came off the bike and headed into tran­si­tion, ec­static to spot just one bike al­ready racked in the 50 to 54 age group sec­tion.

“I’m in sec­ond place!” he thought. His teenage son Christophe was out there vol­un­teer­ing, the first race he’d ever at­tended. “I can’t blow this,” Grav­e­line told him­self. “If I can hang onto my po­si­tion, I’ll get on the podium. He’ll be so proud of me.”

Grav­e­line felt great on the run, and half­way through, he de­cided he had it in him to catch his ri­val – who­ever he was. He turned up the gas. “I start run­ning and run­ning, and I see a per­son up ahead who kind of looks my age. ‘It must be him,’ I think. I catch up to him and look at his calf and – that’s not the guy.

“By the end of the race, I was run­ning on fumes. I see this other guy at the top of the next hill, and I go, ‘That’s him, for sure.’ I sprinted up the hill. It wasn’t him, ei­ther.”

Con­tent with a sec­ond-place fin­ish, Grav­e­line couldn’t be­lieve it when he was called up to the podium and told he’d won his age group.

“That bike that was racked – it be­longed to some guy who never fin­ished the swim,” Grav­e­line re­counts. “I ran the race of my life – chas­ing a ghost.”

The Muskoka race, which earned Grav­e­line a berth at the 2012 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship, would be just an­other age-grouper’s war story, but for the fact Grav­e­line did the en­tire 70.3 on just 250 calo­ries, tak­ing in tiny cut-up por­tions of en­ergy gels ev­ery few min­utes through­out the bike ride – and eat­ing noth­ing on the run.

Grav­e­line’s real un­seen en­emy is no ghost, but sugar and the ef­fect it has on his in­sulin-re­sis­tant body.

In 1998, the 5'10" Ot­tawa en­gi­neer was di­ag­nosed with type-2 di­a­betes.

At 36, Grav­e­line tipped the scales at 240 lb. and his blood sugar num­bers were sky high: A nor­mal per­son’s fast­ing blood sugar level is be­tween 4 and 6. Grav­e­line’s was over 14. His doc­tor feared he’d al­ready dam­aged his kid­neys.

“I just went nuts,” Grav­e­line said. “I ate noth­ing but two tomato sand­wiches a day, and I rode a sta­tion­ary bike for hours on end.”

Within six months he’d lost 50 lb. and the di­a­betes went away.

“Ex­er­cise is the best pre­ven­tion we have for type-2 di­a­betes right now,” says Dr. Tina Kader, an en­docri­nol­o­gist at Mon­treal’s Jewish Gen­eral Hospi­tal and a cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor who is also a four-time con­tender at Kona. “It is bet­ter than any pill. Bet­ter than any in­sulin.”

She has a long list of di­a­betic ath­letes who clam­our

Marc Grav­e­line in the lead dur­ing the 2012 Iron­man Muskoka 70.3

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